Northern Rivers has one of state's highest drowning rates
THIRTEEN people drowned on the Northern Rivers in the last financial year, according to new data associated with the latest National Drowning Report.
It was the third highest number of drownings in any NSW region.
The National Drowning Report, which was released on Tuesday, showed 271 Australians drowned from July 2014 to July 2015.
Thirty-seven per cent of those deaths occurred in New South Wales, more than any other state or territory. Sydney had the most with 26, followed by the Hunter region, which recorded 14 drowning deaths.
There were also two drowning deaths in NSW where regional coding is currently unknown.
A Royal Life Saving Society Australia spokeswoman said based on the findings, the biggest area of concern was safety in rivers, creeks and streams - a concern that is highly relevant to Clarence Valley residents.
Just over one third (33%) of all drowning deaths in major cities and inner regional areas occurred in inland waterways, which include dams and lagoons.
"Every drowning is one too many in our eyes, so the more we can work together as a community to bring those down the better," she said.
Also alarming was a 26% increase in drowning deaths of people aged 45-54 based on a 10-year average, and the fact that one in 10 drowning deaths during winter was also known to involve alcohol.
While there were no specific figures for the Clarence Valley, those involved in water rescues locally did not recall attending any fatal events in the 2014/15 financial year.
State Emergency Service region learning and development officer Darryl Bailey said volunteers hadn't responded to any fatal flood rescue events in that period.
Despite that, the message is always the same: if it's flooded, forget it.
"It's our key message when flooding is going on. Stay out of the water," Mr Bailey said.
"It's incredibly high risk and most people misread or don't understand what that risk is."
Yamba SLSC president Joe Dougherty said as far as he was aware, there were no drownings on Clarence Valley beaches in recent years, and none on Yamba's main beach since life guard patrols began in 1908.